African American Studies


Interviewee: Rosalind Lawrence

Interviewer: Dr. Brian Purnell

Summarized by Alice Stryker

Rosalind was born on November 26, 1956 in the Bronx. She grew up in the Sedgwick Houses. Her mother was born in Connecticut and her father was born in Georgia. Her parents moved from Prospect Avenue to the Sedgwick houses and saw it as moving up. The Sedgwick houses were originally for Veterans, and because her father was in the Korean War, they were able to move into the Sedgwick housing projects. They had a roomy 2 bed room apartment. Most of African Americans living in her building were from the south. Her parents were very strict with her and her siblings.

She remembers the Sedgwick houses as being very family oriented. There was a mix of African American families and Jewish families. She does not remember any racism or tension between the various ethnic groups living in the neighborhood.

She played many games growing up, one she explains is called Ring-a-Leevio. She describes black, white, male, and female children all playing together. There were some areas that she felt she couldn’t go because she was African American, however.

Her family attended Lane Presbyterian Church located on Featherbed Lane. The congregation was predominately African American. The congregation started to decline when co-op city was built.

She attended PS 104 on Nelson Avenue for grade school, Junior High School 82, and William Howard Taft High School. In grade school, she felt very protected by her brothers. At school, black and white kids would play together, but they would not go to each other’s houses. There were rougher kids from the Nelson Avenue area. In Junior High School, her school was predominately black. During the 1968 Teacher’s strike, classes were held in a synagogue.

She remembers the students in her high school were more dangerous. This was around the time when her area of the Bronx began to decline, which she discusses. Drugs impacted her neighborhood in big ways, particularly with families breaking up. This was also the time of the Vietnam war, which her brother was drafted for.

She got married in 1977 and met her husband through working at a bank. They moved to Queens and in 1996 moved back to the Bronx. She is still a member at Featherbed Lane Presbyterian Church. The congregation today is smaller though.

She heard about the Fires in the South Bronx but these things did not effect her neighborhood.

Politics were not a pressing issue in her family, but they were discussed. She remembers her parents as being Democrats, although they were registered Republicans. She then discusses her family today and the professions of her siblings, all of whom are successful. She credits this success to the strong family upbringing she had at the Sedgwick houses and the role of religion in her family. She thinks that people in the projects today are lacking this sense of community and family values.

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Lawrence, Rosalind.mp3 (90519 kB)